Exercise 014 | Law

Exercise 014

Negligence: Burston v. Melbourne and Metropolitan Tramways Board (1948) 78 CLR 143

click here to download this document
click here (AustLII link) to view the case

Easy questions

  1. What type of case was it? Criminal/civil?
  2. At which court was it heard? Where does this court sit in the hierarchy?
  3. Who was the appellant?
  4. What was the appellant seeking?
  5. What was the history of this matter prior to this appeal?
  6. What were the material facts of the case?
  7. What was the outcome of the case?
  8. Could there be any appeal or future action from this case?
  9. Who were the judges?
  10. What were their decisions?
  11. Was the decision unanimous or was it based on a majority?
  12. Explain the following terms (using your legal dictionary):
    1. contemporaneous
    2. negligence
    3. contributory negligence
    4. prima facie

More difficult questions

  1. What was the argument put by counsel for the respondent?
  2. What was Dixon J's opinion on the issue of whether a legal error not discussed at trial can be the basis for a new trial?
  3. What was the direction by the trial judge to the jury in his summing up? What was Latham CJ's opinion on this direction?
  4. Whose evidence did the jury accept (or not) in their verdict?
  5. For what reason was a new trial ordered by the Full Court of the Supreme Court of Victoria? What was Latham CJ's finding on this question?

Complex questions

  1. Why did Starke J believe that the trial judge was justified in his position that the question was whether the plaintiff or the defendant was responsible for or substantially caused the accident?
  2. What was Starke J's reasoning on the question of whether an error in law in the direction of the judge on a material issue can be taken advantage of in an application for a new trial despite there having been no objection taken at the trial?
  3. On what did Dixon J base his opinion that the trial judge's redirection to the jury was inadequate?
  4. What was different about McTiernan J's approach to the verdict of the trial judge that allowed him to consider that the directions given to the jury were adequate?
  5. What was Williams J's opinion as to the summing up by the trial judge?
  6. On what was the final order based?
  7. What do you think of the approach taken by the different judges? Would you agree with any of their decisions?
  8. Was a legal question of importance raised by the appeal?